Prominent speakers in an interactive session with citizens highlighted the need for alternatives to policing done by fear psychosis and torture methods. They were speaking on the subject of police reforms that NGOs intend to make an election issue in the upcoming assembly polls for better policing in city.
Held under the banner "Better policing or a safer Mumbai", the meet was organised on Wednesday jointly by rights and police watch groups based in city and Delhi. These were city based NGOs Police Reform Watch (PRW), Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), Mumbai First and Delhi-based international human rights organisation Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
Over 200 citizens including some organizations attended the meet at the BSE International Convention Hall on Dalal Street. Prominent speakers of the meet were Dr. Jacob Punnoose, former DGP of Kerala, Julio Ribeiro, former Mumbai police commissioner, and Maja Daruwala, CHRI director. Kumar Ketar who moderated the discussion and interactive session raised the issue of policing by fear first after a brief presentation on SC directives on police reforms and state's response to it through an ordinance.
"The police has traditionally ruled by inspiring terror and fear because the British wanted it that way. Now the emphasis needs to change to two primary rights based policing," said Punnoose.
Right to be safe from fellow citizens and right to be safe from bad police were the two he stated. "The difference democracy makes from other set ups of governments is that you have a right against the police in democracy. The third party adjudication when one has a case against police needs to be established here too," said Punnoose.
Daruwala and some other speakers trashed the ordinance that Mumbai police had passed to this effect in 2014. "Six points were highlighted and the ordinance passed by governments fails on all of them," said Daruwala. Emphasis, she said, also needed to be given on some kind of increments if a person is not to use brutal methods of policing.
Punnoose who gave most of the answers stated that it can be done by introducing changes in the sub-culture. "Sub-cultural indoctrination needs to be done in the force so that torture methods are not used. Community policing should be encouraged so that policing is better and safer," he said.
Ribeiro emphasized that people need to take the issue of non-interference with police force in a bigger way with their elected representatives. "When we complain about interference, some say we cannot even transfer a constable. They do not know that they are not supposed to do that," said Rebeiro to peels of laughter from the audience.
He addded, "If intereference to postings were to continue the way they do in army as they are in police, we will be loosing all battles and wars as we do in city."
"The idea of the meet is to create an awareness on what exactly is the reform and why it is needed. We want to make it an election issue. Vote will be for reforms and all political parties will be approached," said Dolphy D'Souza, convener of PRW.
Some in the audience were not happy with the way Supreme Court was overseeing its own directive. "I wonder why SC is not insisting on the compliance of their own directive. If they feel they have already stepped beyond their limit, then the exercise is futile," said Sharad Kale, one of the participants.